The Sherman Firefly was a World War II British variant of the American Sherman tank, fitted with the powerful British 17 pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon. Originally conceived as a stopgap until future British tank designs came into service, the Sherman Firefly became the most common vehicle with the 17 pounder in World War II.
This Sherman Firefly was on display at the Bovington Tank Museum.
Though the British expected to have their own new tank models developed soon (and were loath to consider using American tanks), British Major George Brighty championed the already-rejected idea of mounting the 17 pounder in the existing Sherman. With the help of Lieutenant Colonel Witheridge and despite official disapproval, he managed to get the concept accepted. This proved fortuitous, as both the Challenger and Cromwell tank designs experienced difficulties and delays.
After the problem of getting the gun to fit in the Sherman’s turret was solved, the Firefly was put into production in early 1944, in time to equip Field Marshal Montgomery’s forces for the Normandy landings. It soon became highly valued as the only British tank capable of defeating the Panther and Tiger tanks it faced in Normandy at standard combat ranges. In recognition of this, German tank and anti-tank gun crews were instructed to attack Fireflies first.
This Sherman M4A4 tank was on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Service history unknow. However, when the object was stripped back for repainting on acquisition by the Imperial War Museum, it was found to be carrying markings commensurate with a tank operating with the Guards Armoured Division in North West Europe, 1944-45.
The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II.
The M4A4 was the most common lend lease Sherman type used by the British Army.
I have posted a few photographs on the blog of Simon’s 15mm British Sherman tanks he has painted for Flames of War.
April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
A M4A3E8 Sherman was used by the film makers and Bovington have kept the Sherman tank as it was in the film, complete with weathering, props and the name Fury painted on the barrel of the main weapon.
TheM4A3E8 Sherman has much wider tracks than other Shermans and this makes the tank look much taller and bigger than other Sherman tanks.
Most of the film was shot in Oxfordshire (and not Germany). The German town used in the film was built completely from scratch, which isn’t too surprising considering what happens there.
It wasn’t just the Sherman that was used in the filming, the film crew also used Bovington’s working Tiger tank too.
I really enjoyed the film and thought a powerful interpretation of the last few months of the war and the defiant last stand by the Germans despite knowing they faced eventual defeat, with the Americans wanting to finish quickly so they can go home. It has to be said that the end of the film leaves something to be desired, but remember this is Hollywood. I
I’ve never been to the wargaming show at the Tank Museum before and it has been many years since I last visited the actual museum, but this year I did manage to get down to Bovington.
There is something rather inspiring about visiting a gaming show amongst the many different kinds of tanks and armoured cars on show. It’s one thing to see a 15 mm Tortoise on the table in an 1947 game and then just on the other side of the museum is the real prototype.
I probably spent more time looking at the exhibits than looking at the games or shopping, but there are some great exhibits. Those first tanks from The Great War were those that impressed me the most.
These metal monsters designed in an era when they didn’t really know what they were doing and there was a lot of trial and error. The Mark IX reminds us that the APC is as old as the tank.
The exhibition is great because you can get right up and close to the tanks and you get a much better understanding of the strength but also the weaknesses of the armoured fighting vehicle. You can see how tall the Sherman was for example and why those flat sides were a real target for the panzerfaust armed Germans.
Having recently enjoyed the film Fury it was great to see the real star of that film, the M4A3E8 Sherman.
On the gaming front, there were some great games on display.
Lots of traders there too ready to take your money, though I went with some ideas of getting some Sarissa Precision models they weren’t in stock and no one had any Copplestone Castings, so in the end I got one of the new 4Ground The Chicago Way buildings and some 28mm Edwardian policemen.